At three, on vacation, my mother and I alone
on an aerial tour (two seats, no exceptions),
my father waving until he was very small
then unfolding the paper from under his armpit,
I wept with the depth of the assured—
the Ruahine Range irrelevant below.

My mother asked, coddled, pleaded.
The pilot offered ridiculous faces,
an early return. Only in the sight
of my father, rising from a bench beside
the helipad, hand raised again in greeting,
was my world, pulled apart, reassembled.

Nine years later his hand, warm,
was thirty minutes later cold. I watched
him wheeled away. I held his ashes
and wondered where to put them.
And I waited for his return.
I wait still, whatever sense it makes.

Alright, okay, we do not live forever. Our works
are lost and are not found. There is no consolation.
But, Elise, I read your poems today.
Each rose and greeted me as if everything
was normal, as if my return had been expected.
And in this act I saw my father.

It makes no sense. You would be strangers
if not for this. But I saw him, Elise.
He was your poems.
He was waving and becoming larger.






First published in The New Quarterly (Fall 2015).

Read more poems from Strangers.